UN panel issues bleakest warning on climate
Top climate experts issued their bleakest forecasts yet about global warming on Friday, ranging from hunger in Africa to a thaw of Himalayan glaciers in a study that may add pressure on governments to act.
More than 100 nations in the UN climate panel agreed a final text after all-night disputes during which some scientists accused governments of watering down forecasts about extinctions and other threats. The report said change, widely blamed on human emissions of greenhouse gases, was already under way.
Climate experts issued their starkest warning yet about the impact of global warming, ranging from hunger in Africa to a fast thaw in the Himalayas, in a report on Friday that increased pressure on governments to act. More than 100 nations in the UN climate panel agreed a final text after all-night talks during which some scientists accused governments of watering down conclusions that climate change was already under way and damaging nature. The report said warming, widely blamed on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, would cause desertification, droughts and rising seas and would hit hard in the tropics, from sub-Saharan Africa to Pacific islands.
"It's the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "This does become a global responsibility in my view." The IPCC, which groups 2,500 scientists and is the world authority on climate change, said all regions of the planet would suffer from a sharp warming.
Its findings are approved unanimously by governments and will guide policy on issues such as extending the UN's Kyoto Protocol, the main UN plan for capping greenhouse gas emissions, beyond 2012. In Washington, the Bush administration indicated the United States, which pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, still planned to tackle limiting carbon dioxide emissions on its own rather than support global mandatory caps.
Each nation sort of defines their regulatory objectives in different ways to achieve the greenhouse reduction outcome that they seek, Jim Connaughton, chairman of the White House council on environmental quality, told reporters. But a senior Democratic lawmaker said the report was further evidence that the US had to act quickly on global warming. "This Congress must rise to the challenge of transitioning from energy sources that threaten the planet and preparing for the damage we can no longer avoid," said Rep. Edward Markey, who heads a special committee on energy independence and global warming in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.